Who or what are disruptors?
The term “disruptors” is a buzz word that has been around since the mid 1990s, generally referring to innovations in technologies, products or services that radically disrupt the status quo. These disruptions can be embodied in new business models, technologies, people, organisations or cultural/social movements.
The concept of disruptive technologies was introduced by Clayton Christensen in his 1995 paper in Harvard Business Review, “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave‘. Since then, the term has been adopted by business and industry, and the definition of what is truly ‘disruptive’ needs to be reexamined, as Christensen discusses in his 2015 article What is Disruptive Innovation?
Here is one definition of disruptive innovation:
“In business, a Disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances.” Wikipedia
For people looking to define the concept in their own terms and see how it applies to business and industry, there’s a Disruptive Innovation 2018 conference in Sydney next month, with speakers from companies commonly believed to be ‘disruptors’, such as Uber, Airbnb, Facebook and others.
The conference looks at innovation, emerging technologies, digital strategies and change management processes. The concept of ‘disruptive leadership‘ is also addressed, which suggests a ‘disruptor’ can be a person or an ideology as well as a technology or a business.
What is disruptive design?
“…when we talk about Disruptive Design, we are talking about creating intentionally disruptive creative interventions that are functionally imbued with the objective of challenging the status quo and making positive change. So, design is about creating something that adds to or iterates on the existing, and disruption is about creating a disturbance with the intent of changing a system. “
Design disruptors in visual communication
Since the beginnings of human communication, there have been many radical changes – new tools and technologies, new materials, cultural and social movements, and people or organisations with out-of-the-box ideas. It can be hard to decide which of these are ‘disruptors’ and which are simply evolutionary steps in visual communication. Many of the changes were introduced without any intention to ‘create a disturbance’, however they have resulted in changing a system, sometimes quite dramatically. The Internet is one example of this.
This presentation on ‘Design disruptors: visual communication‘ looks at some of the major changes in visual communication over the years, in relation to technology, materials, people and ideas. Most of these have caused significant disruption to design methods/approaches and created new opportunities for visual communication. Are they true disruptors? Decide for yourself…